NEW DS9 WIP: The Honored 1a/? [PG13]

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Title: The Honored
Author: Gabrielle Lawson
Part: 1a/?
Series: DS9
Rating: PG-13
Archive: Yes to Trekiverse.org, otherwise, please ask.
Contact: inhe...@gmail.com
Web: http://gabrielle.sytes.net/Trek/stories/Honored1.html
Summary: The Dominion finally puts a stop to Dr. Julian Bashir. But the
Gidari have need of him. What's death to get in their way?
Author's note: Author's note: I deliberately use italics like this *in
text** just because it makes conversion to HTML so much easier.

Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
The Honored
by Gabrielle Lawson


Prologue

"He's not here" Sisko told the captain firmly. It was hard to judge
the other captain's reaction. His hood covered any expression he might
otherwise have been showing. "And if he *was** here, I still wouldn't
hand him over to you without a good reason."

"Tell us where we can find him."

"Tell me why you want him." Sisko was intent on standing firm. Still,
he hadn't lied. Bashir wasn't on the station. He had left less than an
hour before. He had been called away by a medical emergency on one of
the Bajoran outposts near the Badlands. Kira and two security officers
had gone with him.

"We are Gidari," the captain stated, raising his head. "Our wants are
no concern of yours."

Sisko kept his voice calm. "They are when they include my Chief
Medical Officer."

"We are Gidari!"

"That much is obvious." Sisko sighed. It wasn't the first time he'd
had to deal with the ethnocentric species. "There is no point to this
coversation. He's not aboard the station."

"We will find him."

Sisko thought about that. They probably would find him. They were
secretive people, but they were also quite technologically advanced.
They hadn't really needed to ask Sisko for the doctor. If he'd been on
the station, they could have simply transported him away. The shields
wouldn't have stopped them.

"You do and I'll consider it a hostile act. Dr. Bashir is needed for a
medical emergency. People will die if he is deterred from his mission.
If you deter him, you will be the cause of their deaths."

"They are of no concern to us. Gidari will die. That is our concern."

The screen went blank and Sisko slammed his fist down on his desk. He
wanted to call the *Rio Grande** and warn the colonel that the Gidari
were coming after Bashir. But the comm signal would only help the
Gidari to find them. With any luck, the *Rio Grande** would reach the
Badlands before the Gidari could locate them. Sisko wasn't sure why
they wanted the doctor so intently. But he had an idea or two. Bashir
had seen them unhooded. No non-Gidari known had managed to do that and
live to tell about it. As far as Sisko knew, the Gidari didn't know
he'd seen them. But the Gidari often knew more than they were expected
to know. Whatever they wanted Bashir for, it most likely wasn't any
good for Bashir. Gidari only looked for the good of Gidari.


"Tarkalian tea," Kira said, speaking to the replicator, "extra sweet."
She was already holding a mug of raktajino. A second mug materialized
and she walked over to where Bashir was inventorying his medical
supplies--again. She held out the tea to him, but he didn't seem to notice.

"I didn't want to come on this mission with you," she told him flatly.

He stopped his work and looked up at her. "Thank you," he replied
sardonically. "It's always a pleasure to have your bright and cheery
face along." He finally saw the mug she held out. "Thank you," he
repeated, sincere this time.

Kira handed him the mug and sat down beside him. "It's just that
everytime you and I leave the station together bad things happen."

Bashir looked away. "Like we need to be together for that."

Kira knew what he was referring to. It was why she had started this
conversation in the first place. Bashir was too tense. "I wasn't
talking about your abduction," she said, tossing a hand as if to dismiss
it. "I meant the alternate universe, Vantika. Come to think of it,
Chief got into trouble when he was with you, too. The Jem'Hadar, the
Kellerun, the Sirah. And Riker!"

Bashir stared at her with an incredulous look on his face. And then he
laughed. "And I suppose all that was my fault!"

Kira nodded, forcing her face to stay stern. "Had to be. And what
about Sisko? He was with you and then ended up in that Sanctuary District."

"Sisko, O'Brien--and even you--have all managed to get into plenty of
trouble when I was not around."

"But we always get in trouble when you are."

"Hmm," Bashir grunted, sounding an awful lot like Odo. "Well, it seems
to me that I'm the one who gets into trouble."

"Exactly!" Now she smiled, letting him know, in no uncertain terms,
that she was not taking the conversation seriously.

"Colonel, three ships coming into range." That was the helm. Ensign
Payven was one of two security officers they'd brought along. "They'll
intercept in ninety seconds."

Kira was in the back with Bashir. She tapped her badge. "Who are they?"

"Unable to identify," Ensign Savolar replied. "They're closing fast, sir."

"Raise shields," Kira ordered. "We're on our way." Bashir was already
on his feet and he helped her up.

It took them only a few seconds to reach the cockpit. And it only took
a few seconds more for Kira to ascertain that something was very wrong.
Ensign Payven was collapsed over his console. Ensign Savolar didn't
seem to notice. He still pored over his instruments. The shields had
not been raised, and the runabout was slowing down.

Kira reached for her phaser. But Savolar was out of his seat before
she'd managed to get it out of her holster.

"I wouldn't, Colonel," he told her. "You'd never get the shields up in
time anyway."

Bashir had stiffened beside her. Kira couldn't look at him. She had
to stay focused on Savolar. Behind the security officer--though she
suspected he was, of course, not a security officer--she could see two
ships through the forward viewscreen. Jem'Hadar. They didn't fire.
They took up position. Within seconds, half a dozen Jem'Hadar had
transported aboard the little vessel. One of them took her phaser.
Another took Bashir's. They both handed them to Savolar. Savolar
smiled and dropped all his pretense, letting his face transform into
Odo's, or one with similar features. A changeling.

"Julian," Kira whispered. "I was only joking."

"I know," he whispered back.


"Oh, I think," the changeling said, "that you were right, Colonel. The
Doctor has been the cause of quite a bit of trouble. And one might
conclude that he is the cause of your death."

"Never," Kira said.

The changeling said nothing. He placed the phasers on the helm console
behind him and then moved toward Kira and Bashir. He nodded to the
Jem'Hadar closest to Kira. She felt a strong grip on her arm and was
jerked away from Bashir. The Jem'Hadar pulled her over toward Payven.
She could see now that the ensign was dead. His eyes were open; blood
from his mouth spilled onto the console. She turned back to Bashir who
had been left standing by the door.

He was pale. His face had lost all color. But that was the only
indication of his fear. He stood still, at attention, staring right at
the changeling. He didn't shake. He didn't move.

"You are definitely more trouble," the changeling was saying, "than we
had anticipated. We will no longer permit your interference in our
affairs." He held out his hand to Bashir, palm forward and stepped
closer still.


Bashir's eyes moved from the changeling's eyes to his hand. *Why me?**
he wondered. *I'm not the only one fighting you.** But he didn't ask.
This changeling was not in a talking mood. The last one he'd had any
significant involvement with had kept him alive, perferring to torment
him. This one had no such desires. *And why like this?**

"Why not just shoot me?" he asked, his voice just above a whisper.

"Poetic justice, as you humans would say."

Bashir found it harder to breathe, and the changeling hadn't even
touched him yet. "How did you know?" he asked. Kira would know what he
was asking. He'd told her what the other changeling had done with only
her hand.

"We know you better than you know yourself," the changeling answered,
using the same words the other one had used.

The hand reached him, pressing flat against his chest. The Jem'Hadar
held his arms behind his back. He couldn't brush the hand away even if
he had thought it would do any good. There was no way out of this one.
None that he could see. He turned his eyes to Kira, the last friendly
face he would see. And then the burning began.


Kira met his gaze and held it with her own as the changeling pressed
his hand to Bashir's chest. His eyes were saying something to her. They
said goodbye. Then they closed abruptly, though the rest of his face
revealed no pain. Kira knew what was happening and it made her sick.
The phasers lay not one meter from her left hand. She could grab one,
shoot him before the pain became unbearable. The Jem'Hadar would try to
stop her, but she knew she was going to die anyway.

Bashir gave out a gasp of air, and she turned back to him. The
changeling stood still, revealing no emotion. The Jem'Hadar released
Bashir's arms and, instinctively, he reached for the arm that pressed
the hand to his chest. It would do no good.


As it had before, it began with nothing more than a pinprick, the width
of a needle pushing through his chest. This time, the strand that
followed that pinprick moved quicker, rushing its way inside him,
increasing in thickness as it went. Bashir felt nauseous. He wanted to
reach up and pull it out of him. But the hand that held itself against
his chest wasn't real. It was as soft and fluid as the stream inside
him. The pain followed quickly behind the nausea, burning past his
ribs, constricting his breath so that he had to gasp for air.

*I won't scream,** he told himself. And then a terrible thought struck
him. While he was dying here, an epidemic was raging on the outpost.
They were expecting him. They needed him.

The Jem'Hadar released his arms. He knew it was futile, but his hands
came up anyway and tried to grab the changeling's hand. The changeling
indulged him, left his hand solid so that he could get a good grip. But
he could not move it. The hand remained, the strand remained, and the
pain grew louder in his ears. His knees felt weak and began to tremble.
He had to clench his teeth to keep from crying out. Each breath was a
struggle. The strand reached his heart, wrapped around it, closed
itself like another hand. But the changeling didn't end it.

"You are solid," the changeling spoke. "You cannot understand the Great
Link. You cannot know the loss you have caused. We know now that we
underestimated you. We should never have left you alive. Your
escape--three times--taught us this. You have cost us several of our own."


Kira listened to the changeling and wanted to ask him about the loss he
and his kind had caused. But that was pointless. Bashir's knees
buckled but he didn't fall. The changeling's hand held him off the
floor. The changeling did not appear strained. Bashir, on the other
hand, was fighting just to breathe.

She could end it. She looked again to the phasers, but they were gone.
One of the Jem'Hadar saw her gaze and shook his head. She turned back
to Bashir. Her throat hurt like someone had stabbed her. She felt the
tears well up in her eyes. He shouldn't die like that. No one should.

Still he hadn't made a sound. He would lose his life, but he would
keep his dignity. Kira only hoped she could do as well when the
changeling turned to her. Blood began to trickle past his fingers where
he tried to pry the changeling away from himself. Kira knew he didn't
believe in the Prophets the way that she did, but she closed her eyes
and silently prayed for him anyway.

He made one last gasp and Kira's eyes flew open just when his did. And
then he screamed. It was a short, staccato sound. Just once. And then
the changeling lifted him off the floor and threw him against the
bulkhead. He hit hard and then fell like a ragdoll to the deck. The
bulkhead was stained with blood where he had hit.

The changeling, his hand still red with Bashir's blood, waved the
Jem'Hadar forward. But it was Kira that moved. The Jem'Hadar to her
right grabbed her arm and pushed her roughly past the changeling until
she tripped and fell beside Bashir. She knew she was going to die, so
she ignored the Jem'Hadar and even the changeling. Bashir was lying
face-down. Blood was pooling beneath him. But his body rose and fell
in uneven jerks as he tried to breathe. It was hopeless. He would die.
Kira knew it. She touched his face. His eyes were open but they
didn't see her.

"How touching," the changeling said. "Give me her weapon."

Kira didn't look up. She turned her back to the changeling and took
Bashir's hand in hers. She folded herself across his shoulder and
braced for the impact of the shot. "I'm sorry," she whispered to the
doctor. He ceased his struggle and his lungs released the last of the
air he had. One tear fell down her cheek before the blast hit. She was
surprised by the pain, but only for a moment. Everything went black.
Bashir was gone, and so was she.


Chapter One


The *Defiant** came to a stop, dwarfing the smaller *Rio Grande**. It
pulled close enough to encompass the little ship in its shields. Ezri
read the sensors' results. "No life signs, Benjamin."

The outpost had called again, when the doctor had not arrived. Sisko
remembered what the Gidari captain had said. The *Defiant** left the
station less than an hour after receiving the message.

The runabout proved easy to locate. It was found adrift less than five
thousand kilometers from the Badlands. There were no other ships in the
vicinity. Though there were several warp signatures.

"Is she stable?" Sisko asked.

O'Brien, obviously trying to ignore Dax's statement, bent over his
console. "Perfectly, sir. She hasn't even taken a hit."

"Well, then, let's go see." Sisko chose Dax and Worf for the away
team, but he also knew he couldn't keep O'Brien back. Bashir was his
best friend.

The four of them materialized on the *Rio Grande** with phasers drawn,
but they were met with silence. One officer, Ensign Payven, Security,
leaned over the helm console. Blood dripped slowly from the console to
the floor beneath him. "Dax?" Sisko asked, knowing the answer already.

Ezri drew her tricorder and scanned the ensign. "He's dead, Captain."

"Captain?" O'Brien breathed.

Sisko turned and saw what O'Brien had been looking at. The bulkhead at
the back of the cockpit area was smeared with color. Red, dark red. The
stain began five feet above the floor and trailed down to a broad pool.
"Spread out," he ordered. "Find them."

Dax was already kneeling, taking a reading with the tricorder. Worf
and O'Brien headed to the back. There were three bodies left to find.
Bodies, not crewmembers.

Dax stood and closed the tricorder. She turned to look the captain in
the eye. "It's human. Type B negative." She inhaled a long, shaky
breath. "It's Julian."

Sisko turned away from the sight, but that only put Payven in his view
again. But then he noticed something else. Two phasers laying side by
side on the floor. One was Federation, its gray surface unmarred. The
other was Bajoran, and like the wall behind him, it was smeared with blood.

"And that?" he asked Dax, pointing.

She scanned it and then nodded. "Same. I see marks, from fingers, but
no prints."

Worf and O'Brien both appeared at the same time. "No sign of Colonel
Kira, Dr. Bashir or Ensign Savolar," Worf reported. "However, there is
also no cargo. The medical supplies have been taken."

Sisko didn't say anything, but he looked around the room, checking the
instruments and readouts. He needed to know what happened. "Security
logs," he said finally. He stepped forward himself and found the
control panel. "The internal security sensors are still running." He
thought about playing it there, but he knew that Bashir was dead. It
was too much blood for him to have survived. And if Kira and Savolar
weren't aboard, he feared they were dead as well. He wasn't sure about
Worf, but he knew he, himself, did not want to watch how they died in
the same room where it happened. Sisko touched his comm badge. "Sisko
to *Defiant**. Lock on a tractor beam and set course for the station.
I'm uploading the security logs from the last twelve hours. Route it to
my ready room. Four to beam up."

The four of them went straight to the ready room upon their return to
the *Defiant**. Sisko ordered the helmsman to return to the station and
left orders to call if any other ships came into range. "Sit down," he
told the other officers who were standing around the room. "This won't
be easy."

Dax clutched at Worf's hand but she sat. O'Brien looked dazed.
*Denial**, Sisko thought. Sisko waited for him to sit and then seated
himself. "Computer begin playback, *Rio Grande** Security Log."

The log began quietly. Kira, Bashir and the two security officers
filed aboard the *Rio Grande**. Kira and Bashir took the front seats at
helm and ops. The others stowed the gear in the back. After a system
check, Bashir lifted the runabout expertly from the pad. Kira ordered a
change in speed as they cleared the station.

"Pause," Sisko told the computer. "We know they made it to within
5,000 kilometers of the Badlands. That shouldn't have taken them more
than five hours. Computer, play log from a time index four hours,
forty-five minutes forward of the present index." The computer sceen
went blank and then came back to life with the two security officers at
the helm. Bashir and Kira were not in the picture, but Payven was very
much alive.

*"Colonel, three ships coming into range,"** Payven reported. *"They'll
intercept in ninety seconds."**

Kira's voice answered over the comm system. *"Who are they?"**

Savolar checked his console. *"Unable to identify. They're closing
fast, sir."**

*"Raise shields,"** Kira ordered. *"We're on our way."**

Payven closed the comm channel and tried to raise the shields as
ordered. But Savolar stopped him. He grabbed Payven's arm, and, with
one hand keeping him away from the control, he slit Payven's throat with
his other hand, which had become a knife. He let Payven fall over the
console and then wiped his hand on the dead man's sleeve. Then he
returned to his seat at the helm.

Kira and Bashir arrived only moments later. They stopped there at the
door though, and Sisko could see that they instantly knew something was
wrong. Kira had reached for her phaser.

Savolar stood. *"I wouldn't, Colonel,"** he said, his back to the
camera. *"You'd never get the shields raised in time anyway."**

Then the Jem'Hadar beamed in. "The three ships," Worf pointed out,
though everyone had probably deduced that anyway. Six Jem'Hadar took
positions around the cockpit. Kira and Bashir were disarmed. Their
phasers were handed to Savolar, whose uniform changed into the drab
outfits the changelings generally showed themselves in. Savolar had
been replaced.

Kira whispered something to Bashir without turning her head. Bashir
nodded slightly, whispering back. The log could not pick up what they
had said.

But it did pick up the changeling. *"Oh, I think,"** he said, *"that
you were right, Colonel. The Doctor has been the cause of quite a bit
of trouble. And one might conclude that he is the cause of your death."**

"She said that to him?" O'Brien asked, allowing a hint of anger to
enter his tone.

"Shh," Sisko said. He didn't want to scold the Chief. They were about
to watch their friends and crewmates die. It wasn't a time to be
scolding. Besides, he might have missed what Kira said next.

*"Never."**

The changeling didn't react. He merely placed the phasers down on the
helm and then walked back toward Kira and Bashir. Kira was pulled out
of the way by a Jem'Hadar until she stood near Payven's body with her
back to the camera. Only Bashir faced it now, besides the Jem'Hadar who
held his arms behind his back. He'd gone pale, but he otherwise stood
motionless.

The changeling stepped forward with his hand out, palm toward Bashir.
*"Why not just shoot me?"** Bashir asked. The log barely registered his
voice.

*"Poetic justice, as you humans would say."** Bashir spoke again but
it was inaudible this time. The changeling's answer was not. *"We know
you better than you know yourself."** He was close enough now that his
hand reached Bashir and rested on his chest. He took another step
forward and blocked the camera's view of all but the tall doctor's head.
Bashir looked toward the camera, toward Kira, Sisko realized, with an
expression that said he knew what was coming.

After a few minutes, Bashir gasped and the Jem'Hadar released him. He
appeared to be in pain, but he was too far from the camera to really
tell. Sisko didn't really want to see it closer anyway.

*"You are solid,"** the changeling was saying. *"You cannot understand
the Great Link. You can't know the loss you have caused. We know now
that we underestimated you. We should never have left you alive. Your
escape--three times--taught us this. You have cost us several of our
own."** Bashir dropped, though not all they way to the floor. The
changeling must have been holding him up somehow.

In the foreground, Kira turned to look at the phasers. The Jem'Hadar
nearest them shook his head to discourage her. She turned back to
Bashir, who gasped again, loudly.

There was a scream. Just one, and very short. Sisko knew it had come
from Bashir, but he could no longer see him. The changeling blocked his
whole view of the doctor now. But that was only for a second. The
changeling lifted him up, and Sisko could see that his hand was still
placed flat against Bashir's chest. He could see red. Blood. And
Bashir flew back against the back wall, smearing it with his blood.

Ezri inhaled sharply and Sisko looked away from the screen. Worf was
holding her. She was crying. Her hand covered her mouth. O'Brien had
dropped his head into his hands. Bashir was dead. But it wasn't over
yet. Kira was still alive. He looked back to the screen. Kira was
taken aft--away from the camera--and thrown down beside Bashir's body.
She touched his face.

*"How touching,"** the changeling said. *"Give me her weapon."** So
they would shoot her. Kira didn't turn back to them. She took Bashir's
hand and leaned over him. The changeling fired the shot and she went
limp. Sisko sighed. That accounted for the lack of lifesigns. The
Jem'Hadar beamed off the runabout with the changeling and the camera
then recorded an unmoving scene.

"Computer," Sisko tried to say, but his voice wouldn't work. He tried
again, more forcefully. "Computer, freeze playback."

"They did not take the bodies," Worf declared, breaking the silence in
the room. "Who did?"

Sisko nodded. "Computer, continue playback one point five speed." The
computer complied, though it was unnoticeable to Sisko. The scene never
wavered, but suddenly, the screen went black. "Computer, what
happened?" Sisko asked. "Continue playback."

"The log is playing as requested," the computer replied. But the
screen was still blank.

"Then stop it. Back it up, normal speed." The screen stayed black for
a few seconds and then flashed a brilliant aqua-blue. The familiar
scene of the runabout's dead became visible again.

"What was that?" O'Brien asked. Sisko hadn't thought he was still
watching.

"That was the Gidari," Dax said, wiping a tear from her eye. "Their
transporter."

"Wiped out the sensors," Sisko agreed. He'd seen that before, too.
"Computer, forward playback, double speed" The flash was so quick now
that it hardly registered in Sisko's vision. The screen became blank.
It remained that way for two minutes before another instantaneous flash
brought the sensors back online. The runabout's interior returned to
view, but the bodies of Kira and Bashir were gone.

"Why would the Gidari want their bodies?" O'Brien asked. Sisko shook
his head. He just didn't know.


He awoke to darkness, so much so that he wasn't sure it was waking at
all. But there was light. One single light shone above him. He stared
at it for a few minutes, without blinking, without taking a breath,
without even registering there was a light at all. And then he inhaled,
and his mind awoke with his lungs. The scenes of his life played
quickly in his memories and he remembered having died.

"Kira!" he said, and was surprised to actually hear his own voice. He
turned his head and found that he could move. He saw her then, lying
motionless with her hands crossed over her chest, but palms turned up in
an unnatural position. He tried to sit and realized that he was in the
same position. *Is this death?** he wondered. Was there an afterlife
after all?

He sat up. It wasn't hard, and there was no pain. Still, he was
afraid to try and stand so he crawled over to her. She wasn't
breathing. He touched her face. It was cold. He felt her neck for a
pulse but couldn't find one. And then he thought to check his own. None
there either. He looked down, expecting to see his chest ripped open.
That's what it had felt like anyway. But his uniform wasn't even torn.
There was a large dark patch though. Blood, he realized. He unzipped
his uniform and saw another dark, jagged patch on his chest, only it was
darker and more like a shadow. His hand shook when he lifted it. He
had to know. He touched the center of the shadow and found that his
hand went through it. It was a hole, a hole in his chest. He really
was dead. But he was breathing where Kira was not.

He thought maybe if he spoke to her, she would wake up like he had.
"Kira," he whispered. "Can you hear me?" She didn't move. He tried
his voice again. "Kira. Nerys, wake up?" He touched her arm, shook
her lightly. She was a corpse. Nothing more. But then neither was he.
So he waited. He pulled his knees up close to his chest and wrapped
his arms around them.


She opened her eyes first and saw nothing. And then the light made
itself known to her. She was dissapointed. She expected more from the
Prophets.

"Kira?" she heard. It was Bashir's voice. She turned her head and saw
him sitting there. He released his hold on his knees and moved closer
to her. Was he one of the Prophets, she wondered, disguised as Julian?
Perhaps he had come to lead her to what came after life. She tried to
ask him, but she had no air with which to use her voice. She took a
breath and felt the air rush into her without understanding why exactly
she needed it when her body was dead. The inrush of air started her
heart beating as well and she could feel it in her chest. Maybe she
wasn't dead after all.

But she knew for certain that Bashir was dead and that he shouldn't be
sitting beside her trying to talk. She pushed away from him until she
ran into a wall. "Who are you?" she asked.

"It's me," he answered. "Julian." He was confused. He certainly
looked sincere. But that was impossible. She saw him die, felt him
die. He was gone.

"Julian is dead," she told him. Was he a ghost? Or a changeling? Was
he meant to trick her? Another Kira was probably left on the runabout.
It was her turn to be replaced.

"As near as I can figure," he told her, "we both are."

She shook her head. "Dead people don't talk."

He went back to holding his legs. He was as afraid as she was. "I
didn't think so either, but then I've never been dead before. I could
have been wrong."

That did sound like Bashir. But it didn't make sense. Alive or dead,
this wasn't right.

The matter was dropped though when the door was opened. Bright light
filled the doorway, but her eyes didn't hurt from looking at it. A
figure, wearing a long robe stepped into view, silhouetting itself
against the light. "Healer," it spoke, a feminine voice. "Come with me."

Bashir, or whoever he was, looked back to her. "Gidari," he whispered
in wonder. He was still confused.

She began to worry that he really was Bashir. And the Gidari were
taking him away. She stood. "Where are you taking him?" she addressed
the robed figure.

"You are Honored," the figure answered, dipping her head, "but you are
not the Healer. I speak only to the Healer. I am the Protector of Life
for this vessel."

A vessel. Not the Celestial Temple, not heaven, as the humans would
call it--those who believed in such a thing. A ship.

Bashir stood. He looked back at her once more and then followed the
figure out the door. And then it was her turn to wait.


"Your Life," the priestess explained, "which the Creator gave you, was
gone. I, as Keeper of Life for this vessel, found you and found your
Life. I have drawn it back."

Bashir recognized her voice. He'd met her before. This ship was the
*Gindarin**, a Gidari trading vessel that had come to DS Nine several
years before. He noted that even on the ship, she did not remove her
hood. But then Bashir didn't expect that she would. Gidari only showed
themselves to Gidari.

"You are not Gidari, so I must explain," she went on. "This Second
Life is not like the First. Your Life wishes to go on its way, to be
with the Creator. It has been detained. It can only be held for two
hundred Glif. This is one week on Bajor."

"So I'm not dead?" Bashir asked, trying to comprehend the meaning
behind her mystic words.

"You must listen!" she ordered. But then her tone softened. She bowed
her head. "You are Honored. This is a serious, solemn thing, and it
does not endure. You must not waste even one Glif."

Bashir didn't want to be scolded. He wanted to understand. He was
dead, but now alive. "Why only one week?"

"All Gidari know this," she explained. "Life must go to the Creator.
All Life is on this journey. It can only be stayed for a Purpose."

"And what is the purpose for staying my life from the creator?" Bashir
asked.

"You are needed. The Leader has been exposed. Those who sent your
Life away seek to send hers."

The Dominion. "But why not just stop it, revive her like you did me?"

"You do not listen!" The priestess was becoming frustrated. "We will
reach the Homeworld soon, and you will still be asking questions,
wasting our Glif." She sighed and turned away, obviously trying to get
her temper under control.

It was so different from their last meeting that it intrigued Bashir.
*It must be something to do with being Honored**, he thought. *Maybe
she has to treat me with respect.**

"Fah-Rhek is not to be taken easily," she told him. "And it is not for
the Leader. Only those who serve the Leader and only those with
Purpose. Few aliens have ever been chosen to be Honored."

Bashir didn't know whether to be grateful or not. He didn't
necessarily want to be dead, but he didn't exactly trust the Gidari
either. They were notoriously ethnocentric, and they guarded their
privacy with deadly devotion. Besides, one week was not much time to
live. It was a reprieve from the death that had already occurred, but
he would want to spend it with his family or his friends, not with the
Gidari. "Why me?" he asked.

"I told you," the priestess contended, "the Leader has been exposed."

Bashir shook his head. "No, I mean why do you need me? Your medicine
is apparently more advanced than ours."

The priestess turned and walked a few steps away. When she spoke, her
voice was quiet. She was ashamed. "Our Healers and Protectors were
unable to solve the Leader's dilemma," she explained. "We remembered
you. We know of your abilities, of what you have done. You are
exceptional. You have faced this sickness before. You are the Leader's
last hope. In three hundred Glif, she will be dead, unless you can keep
her Life from the journey."

"But I only have two hundred Glif to do it," Bashir reasoned.

She turned back, facing him. "Less. One Glif has already passed while
we waited for your Other's Life to join her Being, and it will take
three Glif to reach Gidar. But in this time, you can learn our devices.
We have salvaged much of yours from your vessel."

"My devices," Bashir said, offhandedly. He remembered. "The outpost.
They needed those supplies."

"It is irrelevent," she stated.

"No," he argued. There were over a thousand people on the outpost. "It
is relevent. People are dying."

"You cannot help them." She sounded like a school teacher drilling
the answer into an impatient student. "Your Life had gone away. Your
Life, your purpose, your vessel. All are not as they were. Already,
your leader has learned of your death. He has taken your vessel away.
Your Life is now this one; your Purpose, to heal the Leader; and your
vessel, the *Gindarin**. We go to Gidar, and you must fulfill your
Purpose. You will explain this to your Other. She will aid you."



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